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Armstrong, Lillian “Lil” Hardin  

Hilary Mac Austin

Lil Hardin Armstrong is one of the great treasures of American jazz. In a day when women in music were the singers, Hardin played the piano, composed, arranged, and managed—both her own career and that of her husband Louis Armstrong. Uncredited for many years, happily she has begun to gain some well-deserved attention.

Born in Memphis, Tennessee, Lillian Beatrice Hardin was the daughter of Dempsey Martin and William Hardin Reports differ on whether Hardin s parents divorced or whether her father died when she was young but it is known that Hardin was raised by her mother and her maternal grandmother in a strictly religious household Hardin was attracted to music almost from birth and began playing the organ when she was very young By the time she was six her mother had arranged that she take additional piano lessons from her schoolteacher and by nine she ...

Article

Armstrong, Louis  

Karl Rodabaugh

jazz cornet player, trumpeter, and vocalist. Louis Armstrong's musical style and charismatic personality transformed jazz from a “raucous” and “vulgar” regional form of dance music into an internationally beloved popular art form. Also known as “Satchel-mouth” and “Pops,” Armstrong first gained renown as an innovative cornet player and trumpeter whose creative energy helped bring about the movement of jazz into swing in the 1920s. But he also achieved fame as a vocalist whose distinctive style, including some specific features identified as “Afro-American,” influenced scores of jazz singers and thus played a significant role in shaping popular music of the twentieth century.

Article

Armstrong, Louis  

Frank Tirro

jazz trumpeter and singer, known universally as “Satchmo” and later as “Pops,” was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, the son of William Armstrong, a boiler stoker in a turpentine plant, and Mary Est “Mayann” Albert, a laundress. Abandoned by his father shortly after birth, Armstrong was raised by his paternal grandmother, Josephine, until he was returned to his mother's care at age five. Mother and son moved from Jane Alley, in a violence‐torn slum, to an only slightly better area, Franklyn and Perdido streets, where nearby cheap cabarets gave the boy his first introduction to the new kind of music, jazz, that was developing in New Orleans. Although Armstrong claims to have heard the early jazz cornetist Buddy Bolden when he was about age five, this incident may be apocryphal. As a child, he worked odd jobs, sang in a vocal quartet, and around 1911 bought a ...

Article

Armstrong, Louis (“Satchmo”)  

James Sellman

More than anyone else, Louis Armstrong was responsible for legitimizing and popularizing jazz for a wider public. A much-admired jazz trumpeter and gravel-voiced vocalist, Armstrong was also a consummate entertainer, steadily expanding his career from instrumentalist to popular singer, to film and television personality, and, ultimately, to cultural icon. He acquired many nicknames throughout his life, including Dippermouth, Pops, and Satchelmouth—the latter often contracted to Satchmo. As Satchmo, he was instantly identifiable around the world, decades before PrinceMadonna, or Sting. The international appeal of his music in effect made Armstrong the American goodwill ambassador to the world.

Article

Bradshaw, Tiny  

Michael J. Budds

singer, drummer, and bandleader, was born Myron Carlton Bradshaw in Youngstown, Ohio. His parents' names are unknown. He played the drums from the age of ten and soon after was performing professionally as a drummer and vocalist. Early in his career he served as the drummer of the Jump Johnson Band in Buffalo, New York. He attended Wilberforce University in Wilberforce, Ohio, and majored in psychology. Before forming his own big band in 1934, he sang with Horace Henderson's Collegians, and in New York he either drummed or sang with Marion Hardy's Alabamians, the Savoy Bearcats, Mills Blue Rhythm Band (1932–1933), and Luis Russell (1933–1934).

Bradshaw s own band enjoyed long engagements in the ballrooms and nightclubs of Harlem notably the Savoy and the Apollo Philadelphia and Chicago and toured throughout the United States and Europe making its reputation with powerful blues based jazz His ...

Article

Lutcher, Nellie  

Dorsía Smith Silva

singer and pianist, was born Nellie Rose Lutcher in Lake Charles, Louisiana, the third of fifteen children of Isaac Lutcher, a well-known bass player, and Suzie Garrett, a homemaker who briefly studied piano. Through her parents' influence Lutcher started playing the piano at age six and within two years had acquired enough skill to perform for the congregation at her church, New Sunlight Baptist.

To help Lutcher further develop her musical talents her father formed a family band in which Lutcher played piano. She quit school when she was fourteen to play in the family band; in one performance in 1929 she worked with Ma Rainey A year later she and her father started playing weekend performances with Clarence Hart s Imperial Band This opportunity led Lutcher to tour with the Southern Rhythm Boys of New Orleans The group toured throughout Louisiana and Texas before they ...

Article

Page, Hot Lips  

Barry Kernfeld

jazz trumpeter and singer, was born Oran Thaddeus Page in Dallas, Texas. His parents' names are unknown. His father, who worked in the moving business, died in 1916. His mother taught school and gave Page his first music lessons. He played piano, clarinet, and saxophone before taking up trumpet when he was twelve.

Page played in adolescent bands locally before touring in carnival and minstrel shows during the summer after he turned fifteen. At some point he toured on the Theater Owners' Booking Association circuit, accompanying the blues singers Bessie Smith and Ida Cox. By one account Page attended high school in Corsicana, Texas, but dropped out to work in a Texas oil field; by another, he organized bands while attending a college in Texas. Accompanying the blues singer Ma Rainey he went on tour to New York for performances at the Lincoln Theater in Harlem ...

Article

Pozo, Chano  

Thaddeus Russell

percussionist, was born Luciano Pozo y Gonzalez in Havana, Cuba. The names and occupations of his parents are unknown. Pozo grew up in Solar el Africá, a slum neighborhood of former slave quarters in Havana. He began drumming as a young child in ceremonies conducted by the Abakwa, a West African secret religious society that was brought to Cuba by slaves. Pozo became a celebrity in Havana for his drumming and dancing in the annual Carnival celebration. He won several prizes for his songs at Carnival in the 1930s and developed a reputation among musicians in the Caribbean and the United States. Pozo recorded several of his winning songs, including “El Pin Pin” and “Nague,” which made him relatively wealthy.

In 1937 Pozo moved to Harlem New York where his fame among jazz musicians spread He played regular gigs in nightclubs and bars in East Harlem and in ...

Article

Scott, Hazel Dorothy  

Antoinette Handy

jazz pianist and singer, was born in Port of Spain, Trinidad, the daughter of R. Thomas Scott, an English professor, and Alma Long, a musician. The Scott family (Hazel, her parents, and her maternal grandmother) moved to the United States in 1924, settling in Harlem. A child prodigy, Hazel was reading by age three. By age four she was using both hands at the piano (playing by ear), and by age five she was improvising. Her first piano instructor was her mother. At age eight she was heard by the Juilliard School of Music professor Paul Wagner, who explained that although she was too young to enter Juilliard formally, he would accept her as his pupil.

She made her debut at age thirteen, advertised as “Little Miss Hazel Scott, Child Wonder Pianist.” The recital program announcement added, “Mrs Alma Long ...